Coppice Primary School Extension

Coppice Primary School in Chigwell, UK has completed the development of its ‘Centre of Excellence’ in a considerably low time and cost, using the AcerMetric building system.

AcerMetric is a British applied engineering design and development firm that offers its innovative construction system as a solution to the shortfall in low-cost housing and schools in the UK, and worldwide.

The modular building system uses expanded polystyrene, known in Europe as airpop, as part of its patented design. This enabled the centre to be assembled on-site over 13 weeks.

Only four builders were involved in the centre’s construction to manually lift panels, with the elements being installed with a single tool.

Coppice Primary School said: "The new Centre of Excellence is a unique and bespoke provision that houses two additional classrooms, a computing suite, art studio and science laboratory to accommodate our subject specialisms.

"This has been a huge success with our pupils, being able to educate them in a purpose built provision. The wider community also benefits from using the art studio in our Centre of Excellence."

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The two-storey, multi-purpose development covers 466m², and was funded by the school itself.

The AcerMetric building system involves use of interlocking panels that are each a sandwich of grey expanded polystyrene (eps), with the option to specify the outer board material, according to the building needs and aesthetic.

The system offers around forty shapes, such as window and door cassettes, roof support beams and columns, which can be locked together in a million combinations to create high-strength, 3D stable structures.

Developed by UK engineering design and research and development expert David Appleford, the system can be used to make buildings of any shape, size or design.

The process has been deemed suitable even for areas prone to ground movement and earthquake.

"It’s an ideal building material for modular or elemental systems because it can easily be cut or moulded to shape during the manufacturing of the elements."

The innovative system has also been tested for its strength, fire-resistance, acoustic protection, thermal insulation and longevity through stringent UKAS testing.

Appleford said: "Our success so far allows us to be confident that if we could move to large-scale precision mass production of the panels we would have no problem in plugging the gap of 150,000 low-cost homes desperately needed across the UK.

"Then when we look at the potential in developing countries; this could represent a massive solution to a global problem in which eps could play a significant part."

British Plastics Federation (BPF) has indicated Airpop is non-toxic, chemically inert, non-irritant, rot-proof, insoluble and non-hygroscopic and resistant to fungi and bacteria growth.

BPF EPS group chairman David Emes said: "There are many building systems, which take advantage of airpop but this is one of the most innovative we have come across.

"It’s an ideal building material for modular or elemental systems because it can easily be cut or moulded to shape during the manufacturing of the elements and has built-in BBA Approval, BRE Certification, BRE Green Guide A+ rating and many wider industry accreditations.

"It also comes closest of any modern building material to fulfilling the 60-year performance life target set by the UK Building Regulations."

Image: Coppice Primary School extension. Photo: courtesy of Roy Strutt Photography / British Plastics Federation.